Prayer Vigil of Mourning held at Palmerton church
Special to the TIMES NEWS Among those who gathered for the Prayer Vigil of Mourning and Hope Focusing on the Events at Sandy Hook Elementary held recently at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Palmerton include (l-r) Pastor Jody Neifert, Pastor Paul Schoffstall, Pastor Deborah MacLean, Pastor Fr. Abraham Valiath, Pastor Rev. William T. Campion, Rev. Sean G. Carpenter, and Pastor Rev. Michael F. Quinnan.
On this night, they set aside their respective faiths and came together as one to pray for a grief stricken community.
About 200 individuals attended a Prayer Vigil of Mourning and Hope recently at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Palmerton.
The ecumenical service focused on the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary, and was held in honor of the victims and their families of last month's Connecticut school shooting.
Celebrants at the interfaith service included Pastor Jody Neifert, of St. John's Towamensing Lutheran Church, Father William Campion, of Sacred Heart, Pastor Paul Schoffstall, of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, and pastors Father Michael Quinnan, and Father Sean Carpenter, both of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Brodheadsville.
Palmerton Borough Mayor Chris Olivia also attended, and said "although there is a borough meeting commencing at this time, I know the meeting is well represented, and I just had to be here."
Campion offered the Welcome and Opening Prayer, at which time he greeted those in attendance with words from the Book of Wisdom.
Campion said "we gather here as people of God who believe in these words."
"We come tonight to share in the grief of those who lost loved ones in the tragic events that occurred in Newtown Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School," Campion said. "Their loss is so great that it has touched the hearts of the nation, and so we, in the our community, come tonight to offer our condolences', but more importantly, our prayerful support to the Newtown Community."
Campion stated that he attempted to call and fax Msgr. Weiss, from Newtown, who is pastor to over half of those who had their lives taken from them. Although he wasn't able to talk with anyone, Campion said he did forward a fax, and asked him personally to convey their support, and added that "even though we are separated by miles, we are one with them in prayer."
Schoffstall then conducted the Lighting of the Candles for those Lost. In all, 29 candles were lit; 26 of which were for the victims; one for the shooter; one for the mother of the shooter; and one for the loss that every child has of their innocence.
That was followed by the singing of the Hymn, "Silent Night", led by Neifert's guitar accompaniment.
From there, Quinnan gave the scripture reading on the Holy Scripture: St. Matthew 2:13.
The litany was then led by Neifert, who read the names of those lost, including those of the mother and the shooter.
MacLean then gave the scripture reading St. Matthew 19:13-14. She then read a very poignant poem she received
That was followed by the singing of the Hymn, "Here In This Place".
Neifert then invited the interfaith congregation to share their thoughts, at which time one gentleman stated "we took God out of our schools. It is now time to put God back."
Peg Duell, Sacred Heart Prayer and Bible Study Group member, then came front and extended condolences and group prayers for all victims and their families.
Schoffstall then gave a Reflection of the Evening.
Carpenter then led prayers. A time for Silent Reflection followed.
Afterward, Neifert led The Prayer of St. Francis.
Campion then gave the Benediction.
"Heavenly Father, we thank you for all who have come to share with us in prayer for our deceased brothers and sisters of Newtown. Echoing the words of St. Augustine, we know that "our hearts are restless until they rest in you." Tonight, we ask you to come and dwell among all your people and give us the gift of your Holy Peace, and we pray this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen."
The service ended with the closing Hymn "Peace, I Leave With You My Friends".
Before the service commenced, a parishioner from Our Lady Queen of Peace Gilbert came to the front Church Sacristy to present Campion with a shopping bag filled with 26 Beanie Babies to be placed next to the 26 candles with the expressed wish Beanies be donated later to needy children.
The Congregation lingered after service to speak with Celebrants and each other.
Celebrants then expressed sincere thanks to Frank Hager, Sacred Heart parishioner, who played an instrumental role to ensure the service was held.